Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness
Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
who would cry out
to the petals on the ground
knowing, as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married
to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do
if the love one claims to have for the world
So let us go on
though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.
– Mary Oliver
My sage plants –who have seemed to play dead in past seasons– decided to go crazy this year! So Robin and Lynn from RL Linden & Co (you know, the awesome plant ladies who make amazing products and we all absolutely adore) came over to show me what I could do with them. I was super stoked they were up for doing this with me bc they’re currently prepping for their Autumn Witch & Bitch class they hold in collaboration with the lovely Shae from DRAM Apothecary. The focus this session is fire and they’ll be teaching a more in-depth look at smudging traditions.
In my yard I have Russian Sage with flowers, Silver Sage, and Lavender. We decided to use these plants to make smudge sticks. I have used smudge sticks of sage in the past to clear the air: lighting it I slowly and prayfully take it around the house and the corners of the rooms to refresh the stale air both literally and spiritually. I did this a lot when I was readying for Harriet’s arrival. And I recently did it when I had uneasy exchange with a stranger who was in my home to clean my couch. For me, it is a reset button of the energies in the home; making space for the good vibes I want to be surrounding my family.
I am not Native American and I understand I am not necessarily using smudge-sticks (not a Native American term) in the original way. Using the spirit of the tradition I must say here that I AM appropriating it for my use and do not claim to be adhering strictly to any historical cultural rituals. I mean not to offend and do believe strongly we all have a lot to learn from other cultures and spiritual practices. Being a Christian, I find that smudging my home –as well as meditating and celebrating new and full moons, among other non-Christian practices– has led me to a much deeper love of the God I serve of the world He created and all that is in it, as well as a deeper respect for the mysteriousness of the spiritual and mystical realm.
Robin and Lynn explained that first, before I begin harvesting the plants, I must give an offering to the ground from which they came. This time with them I gave a couple strands of my hair. When I went out another time, I spread cornmeal around the plants. Breast milk, they said, would also be a very meaningful option. Then, as I cut each stem I said a silent thanks for what I was able to receive. I must say this was my first time talking to plants and I felt humbled and grateful.
In addition to my sage and lavender, Robin brought some herbs from her home garden. Clockwise starting from the left and looping in is: || mugwort || silver sage (female) || lemon thyme || lavender || flowering oregano || lemon balm || motherwort || yarrow || spearmint ||
We laid them out and got to work. Essentially, you make a thick bundle of one or multiple herbs. I discovered that the smell of flowering oregano is quite heavenly indeed and the aroma that sage leaves on my fingertips is one I want to carry around with me everywhere. You can cut the plants to any length before you bundle or choose to have long bundles. I quickly took the cue from Lynn and Robin that there is no wrong or right way to do it. One thing for sure, it was a beautiful way to slow us all down in the middle of our busy day.I felt so blessed in this moment: crafting this useful and beautiful item while communing with women I greatly admire.
Once you have your bundle ready, tie a knot with your string (100% cotton) at the bottom around the stems leaving about 2 inches of loose string. Then tightly wind the string up around to the top of the bundle and then back down, overlapping the wound string, creating a criss-cross-like pattern. When you get back to the bottom, tie this end with the 2 inch loose string. You can choose to trim both ends to make them even, or let the tops frill out more wildly.
Once done, I tied more string around the bases and hung them from hooks in my porch to dry. I left them there just a little over one week. If you live in more humid climate (Denver is dry dry dry) then leave them hanging to dry for longer, or find a dry spot inside to either hang or lay them out. If you do lay them out, make sure you turn them throughout the week so that all sides can properly dry out.
We made lots! And I’m stoked to be offering one of the smudge sticks we made to one of you readers! In addition to a smudge stick, RL Linden & Co is adding their roll-on Ironwood Signature Perfume Oil to the pot. But wait! There’s more! DRAM Apothecary is also throwing in a tin of DRAM Woodlands Loose Leaf Tea.
Please leave a comment below saying what ceremonies or rituals (traditional or personal) you practice at home to focus yourself or calm yourself or get centered or send out good juju. Want more ways to win?
I’ll pick a winner next Friday!
this lady did the fancy-pants-party-planning magic. her adorable hubby helped with the balloons and set-up. this party would have been lame without them.
the hostesses with the mostesses. if i do say so myself
this rad family came. while they were busy taking sickeningly cute photos of themselves their two boys were going crazy with balloons and hula hoops. oh wait. ALL of the kids were going crazy with balloons and hula hoops. there was no stopping them. snap away.
put your best face forward. that’s how it goes. right?
these little ladies sure loved cupcakes! and hula hoops! and dancing! avi was all about the balloons.
this couple was pretty smug that their little one was so well-behaved. oh you just wait. give it two more years. marion will be bouncing off the walls with the best of them. see below.
the best part about this photo is that this was way before the sugar-melt-down-scream fest actually happened. about one hour before all parents were tearing their kids away from the sugary toppings at the cupcake decorating bar and vowing never to go to a powerdriver party again.
etta was beside herself. she was so
thrilled confused at all the festivities.
bc a lot of this was going on (that little boy belongs to no one in that photo. that little boy knows no one in that photo. that’s what i call “going with the flow.”)
every little one was held and squeezed and kissed by this baby whisperer.
HOORAY! IT’S A THREE YEAR OLD’S PARTY!
this three year old. isn’t she darn stinking tooting cute?
she sure is. and i promise she had a good time.
so did this family. maybe too good of a time.
and then there’s this couple. true friends. you know how i know that? bc they don’t even have kids and they stuck around for ALL the fun. and hula hoops. and beer.
um yeah. this sums it up. the adults started going crazy w the leftover cupcakes and all the kids were basically begging for bedtime.
what a party! thanks again, nicole and hey! party collective for making it so special and fun.
as i type this it is 9:16 on tuesday evening, july 15th. your third birthday. you are on the futon eating strawberries and watching the lego movie with papa. today has been a very good day. for the record, you don’t typically stay up this late. [...]
as i type this it is 9:16 on tuesday evening, july 15th. your third birthday. you are on the futon eating strawberries and watching the lego movie with papa. today has been a very good day. for the record, you don’t typically stay up this late. in fact, many moms i know are flabbergasted that i put you to bed between 6:00 and 7:00. however, birthdays are so so special. at least papa and i think so. so, basically, you get to do whatever you want to do on your birthday. and, thus, today was a very good day.
before i get started on how awesome our day was, can i just tell you how freaking weird it is to have a three year old?! i can’t believe you are three already! i can still vividly remember the day i first met you (which we revisited over pancakes this morning) and since then time has flown. seriously. they (they being every parent before me) tell you that it goes by in a blink of an eye. boy, they were not lying. it’s easy to forget that when the tough stages seem so long (newborn sleepless nights, infant teething, toddler surliness) but always in hindsight those more difficult, trying bits are always just that. bits. bits out of larger chunks of speedy awesomeness. bc that’s what it feels like to be your mom. just chunks of days filled w awesomeness. then a bit of holy shit. and then back to chunks of awesomeness. thank you for being so awesome. you are three, girl! it has been so much fun getting here.
so july 15, 2014. you woke up later than usual (thank you so much) and eased yourself outta bed and onto mr. hippo [readers: he's a large pillow-shaped stuffed hippo]. you two had a chat. i made my way down bc i couldn’t wait to tell you happy birthday. it is, after all, the first year where you have been old enough to anticipate your birthday. you’ve been planning it and talking about it for at least the past two months. which is, like, eternity for an almost-three year old. i sang you happy birthday and you threw your arms around my neck. you were so excited. it was adorable.
papa made raspberry-vanilla pancakes and scrambled eggs. i made the table and the doors pretty. you couldn’t wait to blow out the candles. we spilled watermelon-pink-lemonade-coconut-water drink all over the table in our excitement to celebrate. mama forgot the candles but you didn’t forget to remind me. ugh. i love how your brain works.
after breakfast, we sat on the couch and watched you open up the presents from us. you are so cute in how you spend such good time w each present after you open it: taking a good look at it, telling us what you see, trying to figure it out before you move onto the next one. your economy of movement and focus isn’t always precise but it sure is beyond your actual years.
papa left for work so he could get back early to celebrate the late afternoon with us. so you and i settled in and played in the basement while harriet took her morning nap. when she was up, we were all ready to head out on a walk to tattered cover, which was followed by a pizza slice at anthony’s and then a walk back home.
the way home took us past the denver skate park. you floored mama by not only asking to go to the skate park before you had even seen it (or ever been there before) but also by promptly and unabashedly wheeling your bike right up to the first bowl (i don’t actually know what anything at a skate park is called bc that is one thing i have no familiarity with whatsoever) and diving right on in. fearless. dare devil. girl, you seriously are going to do some amazing things in life bc i don’t know any other three year old or thirty year old that would tackle something so foreign and unfamiliar and new to them with such courage and confidence and non-plussed, bad-assed attitude.
but i shouldn’t be surprised! you’ve always faced challenges head on. you might pull the shy card now and then but, overall, you’re up for anything, scared of nothing, eager to try new things, and also conquer them. today was no different. and it was extra special for me to watch you do this on the day of your third birthday. it just seemed so apt.
you’re silly, ramona. (see the photo above? you learned you can roll your tongue [something inherited from your papa] and find any excuse to do so.) you make me laugh. you make me beam. i am so proud to be your mama.
and more and more you and i have become a team. you seem to be catching on to how much fun we have together. we have inside jokes. we have tickle fights. we have daily “rituals” have activities we do each day that make us happy and smiley and giggly. we have ongoing stories and conversations. you tell me to “don’t be too serious” or to “smile and be happy” if i need that reminder. and i am amazed at how much you offer to me: “i love you.”
and the way you include your sister! you search for her first thing in the morning or after your nap. you work hard to make sure she’s content: pacifier, smiley faces, tickling her toes. someday she’ll join in on the inside jokes we have together and i’m so proud at what you are doing now to make her feel loved and included even though she can’t can’t quite keep up on her own yet. i’ve told you this but: you are such a kind, loving, fun big sister. thank you for making it easy on mama.
ramona. after some quiet time to recharge from our long walk, we got a special visit from lashley and koan, who popped by just to see you and say happy birthday! (kola: if you couldn’t tell she was short on sleep and long on sugar…). you seriously are so so loved by so many great people.
from that (i know. can you believe we’re not done?!) we went on to lakeside amusement park to give you a ride on the ferris wheel. this year you were finally tall enough for it and you’d been wanting to try it since last season. after we whet your whistle with that you wanted more. you went on the matterhorn and the flying dutchmen with your mama! and, then, you even begged for more. all our tickets were gone so it was time to go. but we’ll be back. seeing you “living on the edge” for your three years of life is amusing and exhilarating. you’ve got way more courage than i ever had as a little one. i am thoroughly impressed.
and that’s what brings us here. you (now asleep curled up into papa, who is also snoozing) on the futon with the lego movie going on. it’s so dear. happy third birthday, sweet minka moo. thank you for your zest, your spirit, your silliness, your listening, your new ideas, your patience, your spunk. thank you for your goofy faces and voices, your persistence, your make believe, your willfulness. thank you for being you.
i love you. love, mama.
wasn’t ramona’s party fabulous looking?! i couldn’t have done it without the help of party planner extraordinaire, nicole, from hey! party collective. she’s also my new business partner in our event space, 3126. more information on that awesomeness soon…